South Africa has asked Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Pfizer to postpone shipments of Covid-19 vaccines as it now has too much inventory, Health Department officials said, as vaccine reluctance is slowing a vaccination campaign.
About 35% of South Africans are fully vaccinated, more than most other African countries, but half of the government’s year-end target. Over the past 15 days, an average of 106,000 doses per day were administered.
Earlier this year, insufficient doses slowed the program. Now shipments have been delayed due to oversupply, making the country an outlier on the continent where most are still suffering from vaccines.
Nicholas Crisp, deputy director general of the Department of Health, told Reuters, South Africa has 16.8 million cans in stock and said deliveries have been postponed.
“We have 158 days of inventory in the country at current use,” said a health ministry spokesman. “We have postponed some deliveries.”
They didn’t say when the deliveries would now take place.
Stavros Nicolaou, CEO of Aspen Pharmacare, which packages 25 million cans a month for J&J -Vaccines in South Africa, said most vaccines for South Africa would now go to the rest of the continent.
Nicolaou, who is also chairman of public health at the Business for South Africa (B4SA.) Business lobby) . The AU and J&J did not respond to an email asking for comment.
A Pfizer spokesman said, “We remain adaptable to each country’s vaccine needs while meeting our quarterly commitments under the South African Delivery agreement. “
The government of SA has tried to increase the rate of daily doses.
” There is a lot of apathy and hesitation cy, “said Shabir Madhi, who runs the clinical trial for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa.
To speed up vaccinations, the government has set up pop-up vaccination centers and sought help from community leaders. It also has vaccinations open to children ages 12 to 17.